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Homeland Security's 'Virtual Fence' Has Holes

Pilot program for US's new border-crossing system of cameras, sensors, and radar hits early snags

Integration troubles with the pilot program for the Department of Homeland Security's "virtual fences" along the nation's borders with Canada and Mexico have sent contractor Boeing back to the drawing board, according to an AP report.

The virtual fencing system, which combines camera, sensor, and radar into one big picture for Border Patrol agents on the lookout for terrorists, drug traffickers, and illegal border crossers, reportedly has suffered some radar and software problems. The $20 million pilot project covers 28 miles of the border southwest of Tucson, Ariz., with nine 98-foot towers of equipment, and is the first phase of a proposed system that would span the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff earlier this month told a congressional committee that DHS won't pay Boeing the remaining balance of around $5 million for the pilot until the system is functioning properly.

Further tests of the system should begin by early next month, he told the House Committee on Homeland Security.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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